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Alan Jackson, Kid Rock to kick off SeaWorld show amid controversy

By Dana Ford and Alan Duke, CNN
updated 9:07 AM EST, Thu January 30, 2014
Alan Jackson and Kid Rock will kick off SeaWorld's
Alan Jackson and Kid Rock will kick off SeaWorld's "Bands, Brew & BBQ" this weekend.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Artists have fled from the calendar after CNN broadcast the documentary "Blackfish"
  • It raises questions about the safety and humaneness of keeping killer whales in captivity
  • SeaWorld says the documentary ignores the park's conservation efforts and research

(CNN) -- The show will go on.

Alan Jackson and Kid Rock will kick off SeaWorld's "Bands, Brew & BBQ" this weekend, bucking a trend of artists dropping the show to avoid controversy over how the Orlando, Florida, theme park treats its orcas.

The concert event runs Saturdays and Sundays February 1 to March 9.

The exodus from SeaWorld's calendar began soon after CNN broadcast the documentary "Blackfish" in October. The film tells the story of the killing of a SeaWorld trainer by an orca in 2010. It raises questions about the safety and humaneness of keeping killer whales in captivity.

Ever since the CNN documentary "Blackfish" raised questions about the safety and humaneness of SeaWorld's practices, musicians booked for the 2014 Bands, Brew & BBQ concert series have been cutting ties with the Florida theme park. Others have also distanced themselves. Country singer Martina McBride, pictured, announced on Facebook that she had canceled her appearance scheduled for March. Ever since the CNN documentary "Blackfish" raised questions about the safety and humaneness of SeaWorld's practices, musicians booked for the 2014 Bands, Brew & BBQ concert series have been cutting ties with the Florida theme park. Others have also distanced themselves. Country singer Martina McBride, pictured, announced on Facebook that she had canceled her appearance scheduled for March.
Celebs shun SeaWorld
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Photos: Celebs shun SeaWorld Photos: Celebs shun SeaWorld

Country star Trace Adkins pulled out this month. Other acts that have canceled include: Trisha Yearwood, Willie Nelson, Cheap Trick, Heart, Barenaked Ladies, Martina McBride and 38 Special.

Pat Benatar, Beach Boys cancel

Only Justin Moore and Scotty McCreery remain on the event calendar from the original list. Their representatives have not responded to CNN's repeated requests for comment.

Online petitions and social media postings targeted the acts who had signed on to play at the park.

"We're disappointed a small group of misinformed individuals was able to deny fans what would have been great concerts at SeaWorld," SeaWorld spokesman Nick Gollattscheck has said.

"The bands and artists have a standing invitation to visit any of our parks to see firsthand or to speak to any of our animal experts to learn for themselves how we care for animals and how little truth there is to the allegations made by animal extremist groups opposed to the zoological display of marine mammals."

SeaWorld says the documentary ignores the park's conservation efforts and research.

"More than 11 million people a year visit SeaWorld parks, and most will see a killer whale presentation during their visit," said Gollattscheck.

"Over the course of our 50-year history hundreds of millions of people have experienced killer whales in our parks. There is tremendous appeal in that kind of inspirational and educational experience, and we anticipate that killer whale display will continue for generations to come."

'Blackfish' prompts school to cancel long-standing SeaWorld trip

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Part of complete coverage on
'Blackfish'
updated 6:35 PM EST, Fri December 20, 2013
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SeaWorld is defending itself again from criticism surrounding the "Blackfish" documentary with a full page ad.
updated 3:43 PM EST, Thu December 19, 2013
With a parade of performers already canceling appearances at SeaWorld, one school class says it's dropping a long-scheduled trip to the park over concerns about the treatment of whales.
updated 6:06 AM EST, Tue December 17, 2013
With a string of concert cancellations at SeaWorld,but the question now is are artists overreacting to the controversy?
updated 3:50 PM EST, Mon December 16, 2013
Add Martina McBride and 38 Special to the list of musical acts canceling SeaWorld shows because of issues raised in the documentary "Blackfish."
updated 12:05 PM EST, Sat December 14, 2013
Add REO Speedwagon to the list of musical acts canceling SeaWorld shows because of the documentary "Blackfish."
updated 12:01 PM EDT, Fri October 11, 2013
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updated 7:37 PM EST, Wed December 11, 2013
Rocker Joan Jett warned SeaWorld to stop blasting her music at "sound-sensitive" orcas or they'll see her protesting at their gate.
updated 3:19 AM EST, Thu November 28, 2013
Barenaked Ladies have nixed their plans to play at SeaWorld after viewing CNN's "Blackfish" documentary.
updated 8:10 PM EST, Tue November 12, 2013
SeaWorld has appealed a ban restricting how humans interact with killer whales during performances.
updated 12:23 PM EDT, Wed October 23, 2013
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updated 2:38 PM EDT, Tue October 29, 2013
It was one of the hottest films out of Sundance, but "Blackfish" will leave you with chills.
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In 2010 a SeaWorld trainer was killed by an orca. This clip from CNN films' "Blackfish" looks at captive orcas' history.
updated 11:29 AM EDT, Mon October 28, 2013
The family trip to San Diego that we've been discussing, in part to visit SeaWorld with the kids, might be off -- indefinitely.
updated 11:29 AM EDT, Mon October 28, 2013
The death SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010 drove Gabriela Cowperthwaite to make the 'Blackfish' film.
updated 4:21 PM EDT, Mon July 29, 2013
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updated 11:27 AM EDT, Mon October 28, 2013
SeaWorld has been critical of 'Blackfish', which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, and issued the following statement to CNN.
updated 11:26 AM EDT, Mon October 28, 2013
Michael Scarpuzzi, a former SeaWorld trainer, thinks 'Blackfish' 'focuses on a handful of incidents over our long history at the exclusion of everything else.'
updated 11:25 AM EDT, Mon October 28, 2013
The film "Blackfish" compellingly describes many of the reasons why keeping orcas in captivity is -- and always has been -- a bad idea.
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